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Change in Brainstem Gray Matter Concentration Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention is Correlated with Improvement in Psychological Well-Being.

Singleton O, Hölzel BK, Vangel M, Brach N, Carmody J, Lazar SW - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: Results showed that scores on five PWB subscales as well as the PWB total score increased significantly over the MBSR course.This preliminary study suggests a neural correlate of enhanced PWB.The identified brain areas include the sites of synthesis and release of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, which are involved in the modulation of arousal and mood, and have been related to a variety of affective functions as well as associated clinical dysfunctions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School , Boston, MA , USA.

ABSTRACT
Individuals can improve their levels of psychological well-being (PWB) through utilization of psychological interventions, including the practice of mindfulness meditation, which is defined as the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment. We recently reported that an 8-week-mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course lead to increases in gray matter concentration in several brain areas, as detected with voxel-based morphometry of magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo MRI scans, including the pons/raphe/locus coeruleus area of the brainstem. Given the role of the pons and raphe in mood and arousal, we hypothesized that changes in this region might underlie changes in well-being. A subset of 14 healthy individuals from a previously published data set completed anatomical MRI and filled out the PWB scale before and after MBSR participation. PWB change was used as the predictive regressor for changes in gray matter density within those brain regions that had previously shown pre- to post-MBSR changes. Results showed that scores on five PWB subscales as well as the PWB total score increased significantly over the MBSR course. The change was positively correlated with gray matter concentration increases in two symmetrically bilateral clusters in the brainstem. Those clusters appeared to contain the area of the pontine tegmentum, locus coeruleus, nucleus raphe pontis, and the sensory trigeminal nucleus. No clusters were negatively correlated with the change in PWB. This preliminary study suggests a neural correlate of enhanced PWB. The identified brain areas include the sites of synthesis and release of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, which are involved in the modulation of arousal and mood, and have been related to a variety of affective functions as well as associated clinical dysfunctions.

No MeSH data available.


Correlation of improvements in psychological well-being and increase in gray matter concentration in the brainstem. Axial slices from z = −38 to −24, with an image every 2 voxels. Significant clusters are overlaid over the group averaged normalized structural MPRAGE image. This analysis includes N = 14 participants.
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Figure 1: Correlation of improvements in psychological well-being and increase in gray matter concentration in the brainstem. Axial slices from z = −38 to −24, with an image every 2 voxels. Significant clusters are overlaid over the group averaged normalized structural MPRAGE image. This analysis includes N = 14 participants.

Mentions: To address the question of whether increase in gray matter concentration were related to improvements in well-being, the change in the total PWB score was regressed against changes in gray matter concentration within the regions identified in Hölzel et al. (2011). Within the chosen mask, two clusters in the brainstem were identified to be positively correlated with changes in PWB [Figure 1; right cluster: cluster-size k: 43 voxels; p = 0.024; MNI coordinates of peak voxel (x, y, z): 12, −36, −30; left cluster: cluster-size k: 37 voxels; p = 0.040; MNI coordinates of peak voxel (x, y, z): −14, −42, −32]. The more the participants’ PWB improved over the 8-week-MBSR course, the more increase in gray matter concentration was observed in these regions. According to the atlas by Naidich et al. (2008), these clusters appear to contain the area of the pontine tegmentum, locus coeruleus, nucleus raphe pontis, and the sensory trigeminal nucleus bilaterally. For illustrative purposes, values were extracted and averaged across each cluster and plotted with the change in PWB total score (Figure 2). The Pearson coefficients were 0.72 (p = 0.004) for the correlation between PWB change and change in the left brainstem cluster, and 0.76 (p = 0.002) for the correlation between PWB change and change in the right brainstem cluster. Importantly, these numbers are reported only for comparative purposes, and should not be interpreted by themselves, since clusters were derived through searching for correlations with PWB scores in the first place. Using the Tukey-criterion of defining outliers as those values that are further than 1.5 times the interquartile range away from the upper or lower quartile (Tukey, 1977), we identified one single outlier, namely the individual with the highest change in PWB total score. When excluding this outlier from the analysis, the correlation coefficients dropped slightly, but remained significant for the right cluster (r = 0.716, p = 0.006) and almost significant for the left cluster (r = 0.553, p = 0.050). When additionally excluding the individual with the second highest change in PWB total score, the correlation with the left brainstem cluster was no longer significant (r = 0.165, p = 0.609), but the correlation with the cluster in the right side of the brainstem remained significant (r = 0.59, p = 0.043). No clusters or voxels were negatively correlated with the change in PWB. No clusters were negatively correlated with the change in PWB.


Change in Brainstem Gray Matter Concentration Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention is Correlated with Improvement in Psychological Well-Being.

Singleton O, Hölzel BK, Vangel M, Brach N, Carmody J, Lazar SW - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Correlation of improvements in psychological well-being and increase in gray matter concentration in the brainstem. Axial slices from z = −38 to −24, with an image every 2 voxels. Significant clusters are overlaid over the group averaged normalized structural MPRAGE image. This analysis includes N = 14 participants.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3927233&req=5

Figure 1: Correlation of improvements in psychological well-being and increase in gray matter concentration in the brainstem. Axial slices from z = −38 to −24, with an image every 2 voxels. Significant clusters are overlaid over the group averaged normalized structural MPRAGE image. This analysis includes N = 14 participants.
Mentions: To address the question of whether increase in gray matter concentration were related to improvements in well-being, the change in the total PWB score was regressed against changes in gray matter concentration within the regions identified in Hölzel et al. (2011). Within the chosen mask, two clusters in the brainstem were identified to be positively correlated with changes in PWB [Figure 1; right cluster: cluster-size k: 43 voxels; p = 0.024; MNI coordinates of peak voxel (x, y, z): 12, −36, −30; left cluster: cluster-size k: 37 voxels; p = 0.040; MNI coordinates of peak voxel (x, y, z): −14, −42, −32]. The more the participants’ PWB improved over the 8-week-MBSR course, the more increase in gray matter concentration was observed in these regions. According to the atlas by Naidich et al. (2008), these clusters appear to contain the area of the pontine tegmentum, locus coeruleus, nucleus raphe pontis, and the sensory trigeminal nucleus bilaterally. For illustrative purposes, values were extracted and averaged across each cluster and plotted with the change in PWB total score (Figure 2). The Pearson coefficients were 0.72 (p = 0.004) for the correlation between PWB change and change in the left brainstem cluster, and 0.76 (p = 0.002) for the correlation between PWB change and change in the right brainstem cluster. Importantly, these numbers are reported only for comparative purposes, and should not be interpreted by themselves, since clusters were derived through searching for correlations with PWB scores in the first place. Using the Tukey-criterion of defining outliers as those values that are further than 1.5 times the interquartile range away from the upper or lower quartile (Tukey, 1977), we identified one single outlier, namely the individual with the highest change in PWB total score. When excluding this outlier from the analysis, the correlation coefficients dropped slightly, but remained significant for the right cluster (r = 0.716, p = 0.006) and almost significant for the left cluster (r = 0.553, p = 0.050). When additionally excluding the individual with the second highest change in PWB total score, the correlation with the left brainstem cluster was no longer significant (r = 0.165, p = 0.609), but the correlation with the cluster in the right side of the brainstem remained significant (r = 0.59, p = 0.043). No clusters or voxels were negatively correlated with the change in PWB. No clusters were negatively correlated with the change in PWB.

Bottom Line: Results showed that scores on five PWB subscales as well as the PWB total score increased significantly over the MBSR course.This preliminary study suggests a neural correlate of enhanced PWB.The identified brain areas include the sites of synthesis and release of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, which are involved in the modulation of arousal and mood, and have been related to a variety of affective functions as well as associated clinical dysfunctions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School , Boston, MA , USA.

ABSTRACT
Individuals can improve their levels of psychological well-being (PWB) through utilization of psychological interventions, including the practice of mindfulness meditation, which is defined as the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment. We recently reported that an 8-week-mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course lead to increases in gray matter concentration in several brain areas, as detected with voxel-based morphometry of magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo MRI scans, including the pons/raphe/locus coeruleus area of the brainstem. Given the role of the pons and raphe in mood and arousal, we hypothesized that changes in this region might underlie changes in well-being. A subset of 14 healthy individuals from a previously published data set completed anatomical MRI and filled out the PWB scale before and after MBSR participation. PWB change was used as the predictive regressor for changes in gray matter density within those brain regions that had previously shown pre- to post-MBSR changes. Results showed that scores on five PWB subscales as well as the PWB total score increased significantly over the MBSR course. The change was positively correlated with gray matter concentration increases in two symmetrically bilateral clusters in the brainstem. Those clusters appeared to contain the area of the pontine tegmentum, locus coeruleus, nucleus raphe pontis, and the sensory trigeminal nucleus. No clusters were negatively correlated with the change in PWB. This preliminary study suggests a neural correlate of enhanced PWB. The identified brain areas include the sites of synthesis and release of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, which are involved in the modulation of arousal and mood, and have been related to a variety of affective functions as well as associated clinical dysfunctions.

No MeSH data available.